Dr. Vicki Nienaber is well known for her pioneering work in the field of drug discovery using fragment-based screening and structure-based drug design. She has been awarded grants from the Michael J Fox Foundation, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, and National Science Foundation. At Zenobia Therapeutics, where Dr. Nienaber serves as President and Chief Scientific Officer, her work is focused on applying these methods to identify compounds with the right properties to cross the blood-brain-barrier, a major obstacle in central nervous system drug discovery. Most recently, Dr. Nienaber founded XplorStem LLC with a dream to provide a quality, equitable science education to all students. XplorStem is a science education company founded in 2019 with a National Science Foundation grant. It provides guided learning through an online platform and includes hands-on laboratories that reproduce historic scientific discoveries.
Previously, Dr. Nienaber served as Chief Scientific Officer at ActiveSight, a division of Rigaku Americas Corporation, where she built a diverse team of protein biochemistry, X-ray crystallography, and drug discovery experts. Before that, she was senior director of lead discovery and crystallography at SGX Pharmaceuticals, where she oversaw strategic drug discovery and structural biology alliances with Novartis and Eli Lilly and initiated their internal kinase lead discovery project. While at Abbott Laboratories, Dr. Nienaber was the lead inventor of crystallographic fragment-based screening, co-inventor of the ACTORTM robotic system for automated crystal sample handling, and a leader in structure-based drug design methods. Dr. Nienaber received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Kentucky, and her PhD in Chemistry from Ohio State University.